Nuclear physics research by Komani-born physicist makes it into top journal

Full time University of the Western Cape PhD student and Komani’s very own Cebo Ngwetsheni’s research on nuclear polarisation has been published in Physics Letters.

Speaking to The Rep, Ngwetsheni who is a former Kwa Komani Comprehensive School pupil, said he had developed an interest in nuclear physics during his undergraduate studies at the university. He indicated that he was fortunate enough to start the journey with his current academic supervisor Nico Orce. “I was attracted by many of its (nuclear physics) applications, particularly in health. Most amazingly all these applications use radiation, invisible nature. Through such insight I wanted to understand nature, hence nuclear physics.”

The physicist who is doing part time lecturing at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology is also spearheading other agricultural projects on the side. He said his research titled “Continuing influence of shell effects at high excitation energies” was fundamental nuclear physics where they were studying a phenomenon called “dipole polarisability.”

This is one of the ways by which the positive charge inside the nucleus is distributed. One can imagine the nucleus as a drop of water formed of small droplets of which some are positively charged. When you shine light on this drop the positively charged droplets move collectively from left to right hence dipole(=2 poles) polarisability. The publication is packed with new findings, the prominent two being that one. Our results allow extension of the “shell model” which is one of the successful models used to study nuclear systems. This means that this model can now be applied at high energies. Two, we found that dipole polarisability can be used to search for magic numbers, which correspond to unique structures of nuclear systems. It is these findings which I think got this research published.”

He said the achievement made him realise his potential. “In fact I surprised myself with this one. I would regard to it as a ‘grand entrance’ into the research field. I plan to continue with research, and add some diversity to it as it is my wish to contribute to the advancement of science that can benefit our people,” he said.

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